Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Roulette A Family Experience in International Gastronomic Delights Randomly Chosen: स्वादिष्ट भोजन svaadisht bhojan

svaadisht bhojan. This is Hindi for “delicious food.” At least, phonetically. The Sanskrit looks like: 

स्वादिष्ट भोजन

To hear how it sounds, click here: svaadisht bhojan

It’s a beautiful language and a beautiful gastronomic tradition. This is the first of what I hope will be a series of blogs about our home experiments in international cuisine. You are invited to come along on this journey.

How It Happened

It all started when my husband and I took a drive to try out a food establishment in Chandler, Arizona that he wanted me to try. Joe’s Farm Grille is a very American establishment – a hamburger joint, but with a twist. The Grille sits on a working farm. It has both indoor and outdoor seating (only for the strong and heat-resistant patron during August). We sat inside, with a view of the huge, 150 year old Tamarisk tree.

The view over a scrumptious Joe's Grille Fontina Burger
and Strawberry Lemonade
As we enjoyed an excellent meal, our conversation turned to international foods. That’s when he got the idea.

A few days before, my husband had downloaded a pretty cool app to his phone called Indian Recipes Offline. It has a list of recipes for various Indian dishes listed alphabetically. My husband took out his phone and we began scrolling through recipes. So many things sounded delicious based on the ingredients alone.

What if, he suggested, we each chose a recipe and we went to Lee Lee International Foods, got the ingredients, and next week we’d make the recipes as a family?

And so we did. We sat at the counter with our burgers and strawberry lemonade, making a list of ingredients for four different dishes, including dessert.

At Lee Lee, we wandered the aisles, quickly choosing the items we recognized and laboring over small print packages and “Googling” item names we didn’t understand.

In the Indian Foods aisle, we stopped more than one friendly man or sari-donned woman and asked for help. “Oh? capsicum? Well, that ‘s just bell peppers, especially the green ones,” explained one young woman shopping with a small child.

We had two recipes that called for capsicum.

A lovely older woman in a beautiful white and gold sari overheard me read a label. “Jaggery? I love jaggery!” She exclaimed, rather gushingly.

“What is it?” I asked just before I caught the English on the label. “I saw a lot of recipes that called for it on our list.”

She looked at me a little oddly when just as she said it was sugar, I noticed the label “pure cane sugar,” and read it aloud. “Oh!” I said, “I should have known.” I meant I should have known by the look of it. It was basically raw, unbleached sugar. Some was granulated and some was in a sort of block inside the packaging. We bought one of those. If we didn’t need it now, we might want it later.

That night when I picked up our young adult son, I invited him to join us. He could choose the course he wanted to make.

We were all very excited when Saturday rolled around, but we started cooking a little late. In the end, we ate our dinner in the late evening, and I have to say, it was worth both the effort and the wait.

Our kitchen is fairly large, but we don’t have much in the way of food prep space, so we decided to cook in turns.

I took my turn first. I had chosen to make the dessert and an appetizer. I thought I’d knock the dessert out quickly then move into the appetizer. I’d forgotten how long it took to make a one string sugar syrup! I hadn’t made one since the rose petal candies I made for Thanksgiving in the mid-nineties.

Once I realized how long it was going to take, I started the appetizer and worked on both at the same time.

My Dishes
 

Here’s what I made:

Almond Burfi

Ingredients: 2 cups ground almonds, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups water, ½ - 1 cup ghee, 2 cups milk powder

Instructions:
  • Make sugar syrup of one string consistency (There is definitely an assumption by the creators of the app that the cooks already have some knowledge of cooking. So, for those who don’t know: a one-string sugar syrup is made by adding equal amounts of sugar and water, then bringing them to a boil on a medium/low heat. Continue the boil for a few minutes then check consistency. The way I checked was to take a little of the syrup out with a wooden spoon and with my thumb and forefinger take a little off the spoon. Placing thumb and forefinger together, bring them slowly apart and watch what happens to the syrup. If nothing happens, continue boiling on low heat. It is “one string” when a thin line forms between the thumb and forefinger.)
  • When the syrup is ready, add the almonds and milk powder (I used plain old powdered milk like we used to hate as children. I don’t know if this is exactly what the recipe intended, but I had some on hand).
  • Once the powder and almonds are mixed into the syrup, add ghee a little at a time while stirring.
  • Continue to cook over the low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mix begins to come away from the sides of the pan when you stir.
  • Pour onto a greased cookie sheet or plate (with sides).
  • Let it sit awhile in to set before cutting into shapes. I refrigerated mine for a little while then just cut it into squares like fudge.
Almond Burfi, cut like fudge (I can't cut straight for the life of me, apparently!)
Notes: I only found whole shelled almonds at the store, so I ground the almonds in my blender. It worked perfectly. Because the recipe didn’t specify what type of sugar to use, I started with white sugar, but added some jaggery later when I realized that was probably what was meant. I think it did add a little different flavor that it would have had otherwise. Be careful not to burn your fingers!

Capsicum Prawns Canapes

Ingredients: 4 good size prawns, 1 chopped onion, 2 capsicum (green bell peppers) cleaned and quartered, 2 chopped tomatoes, 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp butter, a few fresh parsley, chopped, salt & pepper to taste
  • Instructions:
  • Melt butter in a skillet.
  • Add prawns, parsley, salt, and pepper. Cook until prawns are done (they should be pink all the way through), then set them aside in a bowl.
  • Fry the bell peppers (capsicum), and place on a plate like little cups.
  • Mix onion, tomato, and mayonnaise in a bowl
  • Spoon mayo mix into the bell peppers, then place a prawn on top of each one


Capsicum Prawns Canapés
 
Note: This is absolutely delicious! I actually wish I had doubled the recipe. I could have made this into a main dish with a few more.

When my two dishes were done, I set the canapés in the oven at 200 degrees F to keep them warm while the guys made their courses. My son Ian was next in the kitchen. I helped him a little with food prep, but he did the cooking. I was working so much when my kids were small, we didn’t have a lot of time for me to take them in hand and teach cooking skills. It’s a little regret, but not one that can’t be fixed. If you can read and tell time (or set a timer), it’s possible to learn to cook all by yourself.

Ian's Dish

Ian made a main dish called Capsicum Curry with Potato.

Ingredients: 2 tbsp oil, 2 – 3 sliced capsicum (green bell pepper), 1 potato, chopped, 1 onion chopped, onion paste (in addition to chopped onion), 2 tomatoes, paste, 3 green chilies, chopped, 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 3 whole cloves, 1 bay leave, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 2 tbsp cashew paste, a few chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), 2 cups water, salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Heat oil in pan
  • Fry green peppers (capsicum), then drain and set aside
  • Add a little more oil if necessary, then fry cumin seeds, cloves, bay leaf, onion, and green chilies
  • Add onion paste, ginger-garlic paste, and tomato paste. Add potato and fry well
  • Add coriander, cumin, chili powder, and turmeric.
  • Add salt and water, cover and simmer about 20 minutes
  • Add cashew paste, bring to a boil.
  • Add capsicum (bell pepper) and coriander leaves
  • Serve hot with chappathi or other flat bread

    Frying ingredients for Capsicum Curry with Potato
    Capsicum Curry with Potato ready to serve
Notes: because we could not find onion paste, we made it by chopping the onion and placing in the blender, then hitting “puree” for a few moments. We did the same with the tomatoes. We also could not find cashew paste or even chopped or whole cashews in the stores (we searched Lee Lee and Fry’s), so we used peanut butter as a substitute. For the chopped green chilies, we used some hatch chilies that had already been cleaned, blanched, frozen, and thawed for this purpose. Finally, the original recipe called for using a pressure cooker. It seems that pressure cookers are staple appliances in India. I don’t have one, so we improvised by using a large frying pan with a tight fitting lid. This seemed to work fine, and the meal was fabulous. I don’t know if the pressure cooker would have created a different consistency or not. If you have a pressure cooker, then where I have “simmer for 20 minutes,” the pressure cooker instructions say “for two whistles.” In today’s newer pressure cookers, that would mean about 10 minutes.

We put this dish into an oven safe bowl and set it in the oven to stay warm while my husband Bill made his dish.

Bill's Dish

Bill’s dish was called Beetroot Lentils Curry

Ingredients: 1 cup beetroot chopped and cooked in salt water, ½ cup yellow lentils cooked in salt water, 3 cloves garlic, ½ cup grated coconut, ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp mustard seeds, ½ tsp split Bengal gram (chana dal), 3 dry red chilies, 2 sprigs of curry leaves, water, oil, salt as required

Instructions:

  • Grind coconut and garlic to a fine paste with a little water, set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and sprinkle in the mustard seeds.
  • Add split Bengal gram, dry red chilies, and curry leaves.
  • Toss in cooked lentils and cooked beetroot, mix well.
  • Pour in the coconut paste and a little water. Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes.
  • Serve hot with chappathi or other flat bread.

 
Chopping the coconut for Beetroot Lentils and Curry


Spices gathered for Beetroot Lentils and Curry

Isn't this pretty? The spices and Bengal gram all ready
to be added to the Beetroot Lentils

The final product! Beetroot Lentils and Curry

Notes: fresh whole beets were a little pricey in the produce section, so we bought a can of chopped Harvard beets, which worked just fine. The dry red chilies were Serrano peppers from our own garden.

Eating It Was the Best Part

Once all the courses were ready, we set them out on the counter, and we each took personal portions of everything. This meal was really good, and the Almond Burfi was a perfect ending. This fudge-like candy is not too sweet in spite of having sugar syrup as a base. The recipe would be easy to modify, to use different nuts or even some other flavor for those who are allergic to nuts – or just for variety.

It’s possible that if we had researched a little more and found out what capsicum was before deciding, we might have shifted one of the green bell pepper recipes to something else. However, we had decided we would just pick something and go with it.

The experiment of group cooking went well. While we didn’t all occupy the kitchen at once, it was satisfying to know that we were still working cooperatively. The meal had a special atmosphere because of it.

As I said earlier, we ate late – almost 10 p.m. For Americans, that’s a pretty late supper --


It was worth it! The next day, Ian and I took some of everything over to my dad, who thought it was all tasty. Coming from a retired chef, I'm taking that as a compliment!

Here's our meal, all set out for serving buffet style.
We added Korean Salted Duck Eggs and used Naan as our flatbread.

What's Next?

For next time, we have each chosen a course. I will be making two sides dishes, Ian a main course, and Bill is doing dessert. Instead of a specific cuisine, though, we are each going to find a recipe from an ethnic group of our own choice. None of us know what we’re doing yet, but we shop in a couple days.

This is going to be fun!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blog: Here I Go Again!

Well, here it is. The truth. The cold, hard, fatty truth.

I've been pigging out. I can't figure out why I'm eating all the carbs and sugars that enter my sphere of awareness, but I do know chocolate has something to do with it. That's it, I'll blame the chocolate. Forget about this strange addictive behavior I've been exhibiting.

Oddly, since I got the most awesome Dansko shoes, even my hip feels better. I haven't told my surgeon yet, but I think I can put off that hip replacement until I'm actually old. I've been taking the stairs at the hospital where I do my internship - even up to the fourth floor. Those of you who know hospitals know that means a double flight for every floor.

I'd probably be getting closer to my weight loss goal if I weren't eating all the things.

So. I decided to go back to the site that helped me track calories the last time I did this thing. There are a few decent sites that track calories. The first time I lost about fifty pounds just by counting calories, I used CalorieCounter. When I was doing those awful/awesome boot camp exercises with Andrea & David Gough at DNA Mind-Body & Nutrition and Herbalife, I switched to MyFitnessPal. 

I decided to stay with MyFitnessPal, while tracking my steps and calories burned by walking through a little phone app called Google Fit. I don't think the two are compatible, but I know how to take the information from one and enter it into the other. Who knows, I might burn extra calories just doing that by hand!

So here I am. Telling all the people on the internets (well, at least the handful who might read this) that I have been failing, but I intend to win. I intend to get back on track and reach my goal. That might mean some new recipes!

Certainly, it might mean a few photos and new thoughts on this journey.

Funny, it seems like we not only change direction in our life's journey, but we also travel many journeys side by side. My health journey and my spiritual journey are definitely connected. I wonder if it's the same with the career journey, and the trajectory of my whole life.

One thing I've discovered is that it's better to acknowledge where I am chronologically along the way. I'm no longer the 20-something who religiously did aerobics with Jane Fonda, ran 3 miles a day, or road my bicycle 5 miles a day. I'm an "older adult." My needs are different today than they were then. I found a page on a government website that spells out the caloric needs of older adults

I don't need 1200 calories per day...I need 1600! This is more doable. I put my goal in as 1500. I think this knowledge will help me on my journey.

I know it's a holistic thing. Body, Mind, and Spirit. 

You can follow my weight loss successes - and failures as I go. Just look for the MyFitnessPal badge on the right side of the page. When I last posted to MyFitnessPal, I had lost 38 pounds.

So...here I go again!

P.S. I forgot to tell you the GOOD news! Yesterday, I was able to begin my yoga practice again! I got through a full Sun Salutation without any wrist pain. That and 50 crunches both yesterday and today are my start back into the world of exercise and mindfulness around my physical being. More to come!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Blog: Almost Static

So, I lost weight and maintained that loss for awhile, what with the yummy smoothies, healthier eating, and regular exercise. It was great and I was feeling fabulous.

It isn't that I'm not feeling fabulous now; but it's a just little iffy.


Schedules got a little messed up, I lost yoga and hula-hoop time. I let the diet slip. I reignited an addiction to sugar. Chocolate. Diet soda.


And, I developed carpal-tunnel problems. A billion years of secretarial work have finally caught up with me. I can't do a proper Sun-Salutation anymore because I can't bear the weight on my wrist.


Of course, all along, I've had some other issues. I don't know, have I complained to you about my fibromyalgia lately?


It's not the fibro that's a problem so much as the spondylolesthesis in my L-1 and the arthritic degeneration in my right hip.

The exercise - especially yoga - and weight loss were calculated to make it easier to live with these problems. Combined with some medication, it's been pretty good.


Pretty good, but not great.

I haven't been able to hike for years. I'm jealous of all those 65 - 85 year olds I know who make hiking the Superstition Mountains look like strolling down the lane.

It's all catching up with me. This Spoonie life. This aging process.


I began to gain back some of the weight. 


I'm going to have to have surgery on my hip. A new hip, in fact. Just like an old lady, right?


I've begun forcing myself to take the stairs when I'm on shift at the hospital where I'm doing my chaplaincy internship. I'm equally forcing myself to recognize when enough is enough and the elevator is a better choice.


I'm starting to figure out which yoga poses I am able to do and to find times to sneak them in between my over-scheduled times.


I got one of those padded mouse pads and a wrist rest at work and have been trying to wear a wrist brace when I drive to nip that carpal tunnel in the bud. 


I'm off the candy and diet soda now, and am reintroducing good, green food into my diet. Not that I stopped eating good, green food. I just ate a whole lot of other stuff for awhile there, too.


I'm back to salads and smoothies.


Someday, I'll be back to real exercise, too.


After the new hip.


In the meantime, I am almost static.

But not completely.


I will never allow myself to reach the weight I was at my heaviest. My most unhealthy.


I may not be a rolling stone, but neither will I be gathering any moss.


Unless it tastes good in a salad.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie

The last time I picked up some frozen fruit, I saw the rhubarb and knew that I was going to get them as soon as I could. Since rhubarb needs another fruit with it, I decided to go with the traditional strawberries, because after all, strawberry rhubarb pie is probably my favorite.  I made enough for both breakfast and lunch. Here's what I tossed together:



Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie

1/2 cup frozen rhubarb
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Cold water to the 2 cup line on blender container
1 banana
Stevia or other sweetener to taste (optional)


Using frozen fruit negates the need for ice, so the fruit flavor doesn't get watered down. I added the banana because it makes the smoothie a bit thicker without adding too much extra flavor.

Keep in mind that my measurements are almost always estimated - I have tendency to toss things in by handfuls and pinches rather than using measuring cups. I let the ingredients blend until they look smooth, then stop the blender for a taste test. (After my experience with the wooden spoon a few weeks ago, I am very careful not to lose a utensil in a moving blender blade!)

Sometimes, after a taste test, I'll add a little more fruit or a touch more sweetener. In the end, the amount of ingredients you use in your smoothie is up to you.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Recipe: Apple Butter & Fruit Green Tea Smoothie

I haven't posted a smoothie recipe for awhile. Lately, I've been using blackberry green tea as the liquid base in my smoothies, rather than water. The tea is delicious. Unfortunately, not all combinations of fruits and vegetables are delicious. I've tried a few ideas that were good, but not delicious enough to share.

Today, though - today I created one that I think some of you might like. It's thick, smooth, and filling. Here's what you need:

3/4 cup crushed ice
1 Large leaf kale, chopped
1 - 2 Small leaves lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 block tofu (by the way, I tend to use firm, but any consistency works)
1 cup cold blackberry green tea (or any flavor tea you'd prefer, of course)
1/2 cup frozen fruit (in this case, I had a banana/strawberry/mango mix)
Stevia to taste, if desired

I'm finding it easier to get the kale and lettuce blended smoothly if I chop it very, very finely, put it into the blender with the ice and some of the tea, then blend for awhile. 

When it looks like the tiny pieces of leaf are mixed in pretty well, stop the blender and add the apple butter, tofu, and the rest of the tea. Blend until it has a smooth, consistent color throughout. Add the fruit, a couple of pieces at a time. You may need to stop the blender, put in some fruit, and put the lid back on before starting to blend so the mixture doesn't pop out at you and make a mess. When all the fruit has been blended in, add Stevia or other sweetener, if desired. This has a pretty sweet flavor without the added Stevia, actually.

The apple butter gives this a nice, refreshing flavor and a thickness that isn't always easily achieved. This recipe made enough for my lunch. I put it in the refrigerator at work, and when I finally got to it, the smoothie was just as thick and delicious as it was when I taste tested it this morning.

Everything with Kale is Green: Apple Butter & Fruit Smoothie at My Desk



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Recipe: Chocolate-Berry Lollipop Smoothie

A delicious lunch on the job!
Today is Tuesday. Tuesday is what I call "weight day." It's the day my workout consists of a yoga warm up, 15 minutes of exercises using weights, accompanied by some 80's metal, and followed by a yoga cool down. I love weight day, almost as much as I love yoga/hula-hoop day and martial arts moves day. When I'm done with the work out, I feel like I've DONE something!

So, today, after my work out, I felt like making a great shake. Yesterday, I made a cantaloupe shake that just didn't cut the mustard, as the saying goes. It was okay, but not great, not delicious. Today's shake is delicious. The taste is suggestive of a certain lollipop that I loved when I was growing up.


Here's the skinny:

2 cups ice
2 large leaves of kale, chopped
1/2 cup lettuce, chopped
1/4 block tofu
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup water
1 banana
Stevia to taste (optional)*
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (or more, for a deeper chocolate flavor)

Blend it all up, and when it's smooth, pour it into your containers. As usual, I had two containers. I sucked one up for breakfast. When I got to work, I put the second one into the fridge until lunch.

Just one thing - if you use a wooden spoon to mix in the fruit, don't put it too far into the mix! If you aren't careful, you might end up with wood chips in your shake, like I did! For the record, I poured it all out into a bowl, sifted through and got out all the pieces of spoon I could find. Then I poured it all back into the blender and blended the you-know-what out of it.

Yum!

*Edited 8/26/3015 to add Stevia


Blog: Sunday Morning Tried to Bring Me Down


The other day at church I sat by a woman who has known me for years. She told me I looked great. I thanked her, of course; but then she went on to ask me if I had surgery to get rid of “extra skin.” No, I told her, I’m just exercising and eating differently. I still have extra skin – those batwings just don’t go away by magic. Like Anne Lamott wrote, as we grow older everything sags and the wattles grow longer. There’s no getting around that without surgery. Well, after this short conversation with the woman in the front row, we worshipped together, and went our separate ways.

You could say that Sunday mornings are my “cheat” day. So, as I sat outside with a cup of iced mocha, a small slice of chocolate cherry cake and a plate of fruit, the woman approached me to explain why she asked me about surgery. She proceeded to tell me that once, a few years back, I was wearing a “see-through” skirt, and she could see what she called an “apron” of skin beneath. She wondered why I would wear such a thing, she said, going on to tell me that I used to wear such “outlandish” clothing, but now I looked sharp.

Of course, I was embarrassed to hear this. I could feel my face reddening.

I would never purposefully wear a see-through skirt at any time. I knew she had to be talking about one of my “hippie” skirts; that is, one of those long, flowing skirts that have what we once called the “Gypsy” look, before that was revealed to be an inappropriate term. I still wear “hippie” skirts. I love them. Most of the time, I receive compliments when I wear them, so I’m fairly certain I don’t look “outlandish” to most people.

I kept a straight face and a thankful demeanor while I was talking with this woman, and I let her know that I would never have worn the skirt without a slip if I had realized it was see–through. Inside, though…inside the little meanie in me wanted to scream, well why didn’t you tell me instead of just judging me? Wouldn’t that have been the nice thing to do?

I really hadn’t the heart to tell her that I still dress pretty much the same; it’s just that the clothing looks more aesthetically pleasing now that I’ve lost almost 50 pounds. I dress in all sorts of styles. I have days when I want to wear a comfortable, loose “hippie skirt.” I have days when I choose a business suit, jacket and all. Other days, I wear leggings with a dress or a long tunic and my combat boots. Some days, I just wear jeans and a T-shirt. I was the same during the time this woman was referring to. It’s just that back then, I had absolutely no idea how to make my clothes hang right or look sleek. I still don’t. I’m not sleek now.

Lest any of my readers think I’m fat shaming when I say my clothes just plain didn’t look as good when I was fatter than I am now, let me assure you that I am not. Some people are fat, and claim it as part of who they are. Like Jenny Trout. I love Jenny Trout, and I think that’s great!  I never did. I tried. I really did, but I knew I wasn’t myself when I was over 200 pounds, out of shape, and in constant pain.

Oh, sure, I had the media-induced self-esteem problems. Still do, though that’s getting better as I grow older. This was more. I knew, deep down inside, that I had to lose the weight. My cholesterol was up. My blood pressure and my glucose were up. My energy was down. I couldn’t always stand up straight when I walked, and my hip and back issues caused me to limp, sometimes forcing me to use a cane. I had to do something.

So I did. Finally.

Some people would say that I am still fat.  After all, I still have at least 20 pounds to lose before I reach my weight goal. I look better in a suit now; but I am imagining myself looking great in a Jackie O style skirt with tiny heels and a little pill box hat perched on my head.

Or maybe just a pretty “hippie skirt” made in India and a cotton poet blouse with puffy sleeves and lace that reaches to the tips of my fingers.

I’ll probably still look outlandish to the woman in the front row, but I’ll look fabulous to me, and that’s really what matters, isn’t it?

Come back to check out my smoothie – and other – recipes, as well as more thoughts on weight loss, self image, and reflections on the process of revealing my true self – to myself.

Pax

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Blog: What's This All About?

So, this little blog has been sitting around feeling neglected for awhile. It's almost like I put Baby in the corner and forgot to let her dance. It isn't that I haven't wanted to hold out my hand and bring her out of the shadows; it's just that I've had other things on my mind. Really what's been going on is that I never thought about bringing my fitness quest here.

You see, this blog started out as a place to share my visual art, short stories, and some of my poetry. Somewhere along the line I realized that cooking is an art as well, and one of the times I went vegetarian, I started posting recipes, too. Then I stopped. In fact, the last recipe I posted before yesterday was on New Year's Day, 2013. After all, my recipes aren't all that original, and they are rather homely in comparison to most of the stuff out there.

Since then, I posted just two poems to this site. These days, most of the poetry I post is shared on my Facebook profile, or at my poetry site, River Poems.

It's time to revamp this place! And, so I have, with a new design, a new name, and more importantly, an updated purpose. I do plan to begin sharing artwork and writing projects again; however, I have decided to give this site over to creative fitness, health, and inspiration.

When we are born, we are given unique and wonderful bodies. As we grow, they become the canvas through which we inform the world who we are. We do it through our choice of clothing, makeup, and accessories. We do it through our way of living, our health, and our fitness style.

Over the course of my life, I have sought to be the kind of person I wanted to be, yet that expression of myself was so often overshadowed by my desire to be who I thought I was expected to be.  I've reached a point in my life where I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have. Now is the time for sharing how I've done it, and what I am doing with that new found freedom.

This is my space to share my health and fitness journey. If you're interested in my spiritual journey, you can read my spiritual/religion blog at Practicing Perfection.  Sometimes, just for fun, I dash off strange and totally unrelated articles at In Silent Meditation. Since I'm self-promoting right now, feel free to check out my books, which are available on Amazon.




 
Come back soon!

Recipe: Big Green Meanie Smoothie

Okay, so I have this tendency to call these things "shakes," but they aren't usually as thick as a shake should be, in my mind. So let's go with "smoothie."

I created this new one this morning. Again, I'm sure it isn't all that original, but I did make it up as I went along, so I get to name this version of it. It's really, really green, so as I watched it all blend together, the name "Big Green Meanie" popped into my head. So that's what it is.

This time, I took the time to look up the calories in all the ingredients. This recipe basically filled my blender to the top, and I split the results into three servings - one for my breakfast, one for my lunch, and one for my son to have whenever he chooses to drink it. Each serving has less than 200 calories, and it's extremely filling. So, here it is:


Big Green Meanie Smoothie

2 cups ice cubes
2 cups chopped kale
1 cup broccoli tops (aka florets)
1 cup water
1/3 package tofu
1/4 cup Garden Salad (various lettuces & shredded carrot)
1 large peach, sliced
2 large bananas
Stevia to taste (always optional)

Blend ice cubes, kale, broccoli, and water until the greens are liquified. Continue blending as you crumble in the tofu. Add Garden Salad and peach. When all is blended together, add bananas, about 1/3 banana at a time. Add Stevia to taste, if desired (I like it a little sweeter). Pour into as many containers as desired.

Total calories in the blender = 507, so just divide that by how many containers you choose to fill to get the calories per serving. As I divided it into three equal servings, each serving was 169 delicious, refreshing, and filling calories.

I have been asked if the tofu should be silken, soft, firm, or extra-firm. I happen to be using firm, because that's what was on sale. However, I honestly don't think it makes any difference. I'd say, experiment - see what consistency you like best, and go with that. Or, if you're like me, you'll just go with the better deal.


One serving of my Big Green Meanie Smoothie
Yum! Lunch...


Monday, August 17, 2015

Recipe: Fresh and Fruity Protein Shake

It's been a long time since I've posted a recipe. It seems like it was about time to start up again, so I thought I'd share this new one I've created. It may not be particularly original, but none of mine are, now, are they? Here's the story about how I came up with this recipe:

Earlier this year, I lost some more of my weight by starting boot camp style work-outs, along with using a big name-brand, delicious protein shake and diet plan. The work-outs were great, but with my particular medical conditions, I found I couldn't do some of the exercises. So, I brought it all home. I was already doing yoga and hula-hooping every morning. I began to alternate the yoga/hula-hoop workout with the exercises I could do from the boot camp work-out. On those days, I began to add some exercises I remembered from my fitness days of the 1980's. Finally, I began to balance my week by having one yoga/hula-hoop day, a work-out day, then a day focusing on martial arts, and ending with a work-out day and a hula-hoop day. I take Saturdays and Sundays off from the work-outs, though I will bicycle and dance when I have the opportunity.

The shakes were more expensive than my budget could bear. I shifted to eating more veggies and fruits when possible and cutting down on pasta. I kept the regimen of meals the same as I learned with the expensive diet plan: breakfast in the morning, snack mid-morning, lunch, snack mid-afternoon, and dinner. I cut alcohol out of my life, and all but quit drinking diet sodas. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be to eat right, feel full, and stay within my calorie range, so I decided to try shakes that were less expensive. Let me just say it. "Ugh!" They were not delicious.

It finally occurred to me that I could make my own shakes. At least, I could try...and I was right. They can be delicious and filling as well. All you need is a blender and the ingredients.  Here's one of my favorite concoctions:

*****
Berry-Banana Yum
(enough for breakfast and lunch)

2 cups ice cubes
1/2 cup raspberries
1 cup whole strawberries
1 cup chopped lettuce (romaine preferred)
1/2 cup chopped broccoli tops
1/4 block tofu
1 cup water
2 bananas
Stevia to taste


Place ingredients ice, raspberries, strawberries, tofu, and water in blender. Blend until well mixed. Add lettuce and broccoli, blending. Blend in bananas and Stevia.

Pour into containers.
*****

I drink one right away for breakfast and take one in a covered container to work. I put it straight into the refrigerator so it will be chilled by lunch. The flavor is very berry-banana, with very little (if any) taste of the green stuff.

In all honesty, I have no idea how many calories are in these shakes; however, I feel full and satisfied. Even my sweet tooth is satisfied!

I continue on my weight loss journey, with only 20 pounds left until I reach my goal. Since I began this journey a couple of years ago, I lost and gained a number of times. Since I started this routine, I have not gained anything back, and can say that I have lost a total so far of 50 pounds.


I'm feeling good and feeling strong!!!